Friday, 19 May 2017

Marguerita Top of the Pops

Rub your rim with lime juice (ooh er missus!) and sprinkle on some salt, then shake a shot or two of tequila and triple sec over the ice in your cocktail glass and sit back and relax in your comfiest chair because you are about to watch the second most popular show on BBC1 this week (just behind the Two Ronnies) along with 11.35 million others ~ the December 15th 1983 edition of Top of the Pops!

When Christmas makes you happy from your toes to your dandruff

15/12/83 (Simon Bates & Janice Long)

Status Quo – “Marguerita Time” (25)
The Quo get the party underway and Alan's back on bass, although he looks like he'd rather be anywhere else! The song peaked at number 3.

UB40 – “Many Rivers To Cross” (24) (video)
Going a bit gospel with this third single from their number one album, Labour of Love, and it peaked at number 16.

Slade – “My Oh My” (3)
Looking confident of being the festive number one, but ten years on from Merry Xmas Everybody, Slade had to settle for number two.

Barry Manilow – “Read ‘Em & Weep” (20) (video)
Manilow the sad clown covers Meatloaf and makes it to number 17.

Pretenders – “2000 Miles” (23)
Chrissie has seemingly borrowed Noddy's sparkly top hat to perform this year's 'proper' xmas song which made it to number 15.

Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – “Islands In The Stream” (11) (US TV clip)
Ah, at last we get to see Kenny and Dolly perform the Bee Gee's best country song! And it peaked at number 7.

The Flying Pickets – “Only You” (1)
The might have melted at the end but they were going nowhere just yet!

Kool & The Gang - "Straight Ahead" (30) (audience dancing/credits)
Peaked at number 15.

No.1 magazine, 17th Dec. 1983

It is December 22nd next.


  1. Angelo, is 11.35 million viewers a record for TOTP? I certainly don't recall ever seeing a higher figure.

    Did anyone notice the guest appearance of Aswad in the UB40 video? You can see them in the church just before the outdoor bit in the snow towards the end of the video.

    I'll stick my neck out say that the highlight of the show this week was the Meat Loaf cover by Barry Manilow, called Read 'Em And Weep. I think I am correct in saying that this is the only time anyone has done a cover of Meat Loaf!

    Jim Steinman had now chalked up Barry Manilow as his latest recruit for his lyrics, and boy did this one come off well, and nearly as good as the original Meat Loaf version on the Deadringer For Love album penned a couple of years earlier in 1981.

    Sadly Meat's version wasn't released as a single in the UK as the obvious follow up to Deadringer For Love in early 1982, but hey, let's not take anything away from Barry Manilow's fine attempt at this Steinman masterpiece second time round as 1983 was drawing to a close.

    Suffice to say that Read 'Em And Weep is the perfect karaoke choice for me, and it is always the one I go for first at my local karaoke on Tuesday nights when I can be bothered to head down there and sing. They usually have both Meat Loaf and Barry Manilow versions to choose from, so I feel spoiled for choice.

    1. I remember reading somewhere that the TOTP with the highest ever ratings was Andy Peebles' debut show on 11 October 1979, with something close to 20 million viewers. ITV was on strike at the time, so that undoubtedly helped!

    2. Incredible, you would have thought that with 20 million viewers on a show on a TOTP show in 1979 would be because everyone was keen to see Peebles presenting TOTP for the first time, but he was in the right place at the right time to command such figures it seems.

    3. I think it's safe to say that the ITV strike was the chief reason for the abnormally high viewer levels, rather than a great level of public excitement for Mr Peebles...

    4. In the video for many rivers to cross as well as aswad musical youth was among the crowd to as well as as well the blues brothers look alike

    5. Yes, yes, yes, I didn't spot Musical Youth the first time round watching the UB40 video, but having just seen it again, they appear at the front row of the church, and then the first row of people exiting the church into the outdoor snow!
      What was it about Musical Youth that other groups were clambering up for to have them feature in their videos?

      I mean we saw them in the Donner Summer video for Unconditional Love in Nov 1983, and now in Dec 1983 they appear on the UB40 video for Many Rivers To Cross. What next for Musical Youth? And as for Aswad.......

  2. I'd forgotten just how many dancefloor gems Kool & The Gang produced. 'Straight Ahead' is one of them, though maybe not quite so universally appealing as 'Cherish', 'Get Down On It' or 'Celebration'.

    I never could stand 'Marguerita Time', which my Mum and Dad loved. On this single, keyboardist Andy Bown's Prophet-5 synthesiser - or the 'fairground organ' as I used to call it - makes its debut. Chas & Dave's 'Margate' had made use of the Prophet-5 to imitate a fairground organ, which would explain my analogy.

    Slade narrowly missed out on the top slot with their hard rock answer to 'Let It Be', while Bazza scored his final Top 20 entry in the British singles chart with a competent Meat Loaf cover - and a look stolen from the early Leo Sayer.

    The Pretenders' '2000 Miles' deserved to climb higher than it did. Although written primarily as a tribute to the band's deceased former guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, the lyric could also be interpreted as a reflection on Chrissie Hynde's lengthy separations from Sir Ray Davies during The Kinks' tours. The couple would split soon afterwards, with Chrissie falling for Simple Minds' frontman Jim Kerr.

    Kenny and Dolly could not miss with this million-seller, which was penned by the Brothers Gibb - though with a little Scandinavian help in the brass-led instrumental break! (Bring me Edelweiss!)

    1. By far the best dance floor gem that Kool & The Gang ever did was a song called Fresh, which got to No.11 at the end of 1984. The opening sound before the lyrics come on are a dance 'gem' or 'diamond' and come across so well, that give the lyrics a great introduction. I'm still dancing.

    2. anything that kool & co did post-"ladies night" was utter crap in my opinion - their finest moment for me was "open sesame" (i have a chum who wants that to be played as the crematorium furnace doors open at his funeral service - i told him i hoped i was around to witness that!)

    3. The only song called Open Sesame that I am familiar with is by Leila K in 1993, with a humdinger of a video:

      I followed the charts until 1995 which is when I consider was the point in time when the charts changed forever towards computerised pap and managerial sign-off for everything, to the detriment of musicians being in control across the whole process.

    4. I would add that the reason for this as the turning point in pop history, is that in 1995-1997 the internet had arrived into everyone's lives, and as a result, music videos were no longer filmed on location, costing millions of pounds, but were instead done on computer graphics giving the illusion of being somewhere, but were not actually in any location outside of a computer at work, making videos through microchips.

      I remember the last amazing video made on location was I'd Lie For You by Meat Loaf in 1995 from his album Welcome to The Neighbourhood, where I remember this video was introduced on TV as a 'world premiere', but even after that Meat Loaf had to make videos by computer work, like his new single from the title track of the album in 2003 called Couldn't Have Said It Better.

      Pre the internet era, i.e., pre1996, we enjoyed music more for its originality, musician fair and the visuals that came with it through 'real' videos, including the current shows of 1983.

    5. I am the genie of funk! Everybody get down huh!

      Classic stuff.

  3. Much as I continue to dislike him, there is no question that Master Bates has improved significantly as a TOTP host over the course of 1983, and he does another decent job here. Janice dons her black party dress and seems even more enthusiastic than usual - kudos to her also for virtually telling Bates to shut up so they could get on with the Top 10 rundown.

    Quo up first, and I am sure that Alan Lancaster would indeed have preferred to be somewhere else. He absolutely loathed this song, and the bust-up that resulted between him and Rossi would lead to the band's temporary split the following year and Lancaster's eventual departure. The internal turmoil is belied by the smiles of the rest of the band here, and the song is OK, but ultimately another second rate effort. Talking of second rate, here come UB40 again, this time in the guise of gospel revivalists. It's quite a pretty tune, if a bit underpowered, and at least it isn't another boring plodder. The video ends with a nice Christmassy touch, too.

    The scarves are waved again for Slade, with Noddy sporting some Lennonesque shades, before Bazza becomes the latest artist to hitch a ride on the Jim Steinman bandwagon. Unusually, he makes the song sound more like his own than Steinman's, but the production is muddy and the song doesn't really cohere - the creepy clown make-up in the video was also ill-advised! A nice, melancholy festive tune from The Pretenders next, a tribute from Chrissie to the late James Honeyman-Scott. Pete Farndon was also dead by this time, so it makes it all the more poignant.

    Noax mentioned in the previous blog that the Pickets got all bolshie before one of their studio turns, and I would imagine this melting snowman routine was the one they kicked up about. I don't remember seeing this as a kid, but if I had I think it would have given me nightmares as they all look quite unsettling, the bald one in particular. After that surreal experience, an unexceptional meat-and-potatoes Kool and the Gang number plays us out, though at least it is an easily danceable one for the audience.

  4. i've not got much time for this edition - either in the sense of watching what i can and then writing a detailed review, or for the rubbish that's on it! quo sink to new depths (although believe or not there was actually worse to come) whilst UB40 are now firmly into covers-in autopilot territory. of the other new stuff, i'm not even going to bother listening to barry manilow and kool and the gang. so the best thing here (in relative terms) is chrissie hynde's so-so festive effort that no doubt tops up the old "brass in pocket" pension thanks to being included in countless xmas pop compilations

    1. Nothing to say about Janice Long's dress?

    2. okay dory, i'll take the bait:

      the only time plain jan(ic)e is likely to be belle of the ball is when she presents these totp's with ugly mugs like slimy (hope she doesn't get paired up with kid - sorry, david jensen as he's prettier). but from what i can see from it in the pic, her gown looks quite nice. it's a touch on the revealing side with regard to the decolletage, but if you have a face like hers then it's probably best to place attention elsewhere!

  5. Yee-haw, Status Quo can play both kinds of music, country and western! I'll say this for Marguerita Time, it was finally something different from the band, even if it's more Seaside Special (in December?!) in quality. Was expecting to see the comedy crashing into drums collision here, but that must be on their next performance.

    When Jimmy Cliff has performed the definitive Many Rivers to Cross, what's the point in doing a cover? Undeterred, UB40 (snow)ploughed ahead, bizarrely including The Blues Brothers getting in touch with their feelings halfway through (anyone know the point of that? I was at least expecting backflips down the aisle from the Belushi-alike). The song survives because it's a great piece of music, but anyone who's seen The Harder They Come won't be impressed.

    Slade, and Dave seems to have nicked a Flying Picket's white leopardskin breeks from last week. Not sure I liked it when this lot got all sincere when singing about their "woo-mahn!", not even the bittersweet tone of Far Far Away to be heard.

    Bazza Mazza essentially with a Meat Loaf song with his plaintive vocals replacing the big man. He seems to be tying this into a "it's the hardest job in the world, is showbiz!" theme for his video, but the self-pity doesn't suit him. Mr Loaf could turn on the self-pity with ease, of course.

    The Pretenders, a charming tune made all the more melancholy when you know the subject matter, and also the only really Christmassy tune on the show, fake snow and all.

    Still don't know why Kenny offends Dolly (she doesn't look happy about that kiss either - was it the beard?). As Bates mentions, Kenny was making his acting debut in The Gambler, though I thought it was a TV movie? Did it actually get a cinema release? Something to investigate...

    The Flying Pickets' staging everyone remembers, they look simultaneously ridiculous and a little sad - had the Raymond Briggs' cartoon been on yet? The book was famous enough, I suppose.

    Kool and the Gang to finish with a song I don't remember, it's by the numbers stuff from a band on cruise control by then.

    1. The Snowman film had made its TV debut the previous Christmas. We're still a couple of years away from Aled Jones taking Walking in the Air into the Christmas charts, but everyone forgets (or never knew) that it was a young choirboy called Peter Auty who sang on the film version.

    2. I guess suspending the Pickets on wires was beyond them, so melting them would have to do.

  6. Pretty good show on offer this week.

    Status Quo – Marguerita Time – Much derided song, but if you skip comparisons with the likes of ‘Caroline’ and just focus on a good pop song, then that’s what you get. The band seem to enjoy playing it and I recall on a future appearance they fall over the drum kit and knock it over.

    UB40 – Many rivers to cross – Diminishing returns.

    Slade – My oh my – Still sounds powerful and the scarves add to the atmosphere. An anthem I have heard in church called ‘Let us break bread together we are one’ uses a similar melody.

    Barry Manilow – Read ‘em and weep – Wow! Fantastic. Better than the original in my view and a cracking video too. I recall buying this when it came out and it came with a free ‘Barry’ Christmas card which I sent to someone that year – someone fortunately didn’t send theirs and instead were able to look onto 45cat and can see that Barry’s message is the very American ‘Happy Holidays’.

    Pretenders – 2000 Miles – We’ve seen this millions of time on Christmas TOTP 2 but it’s a great song. Maybe Chrissie borrowed her hat from Noddy Holder?

    Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream – At least BBC4 viewers get to see this now.

    Flying Pickets – Only you – Have you ever seen anything so ridiculous? I couldn’t stop laughing at the Picket with the pipe in his mouth! Did they suggest this charade or were they talked into it? I suspect the latter.

    Kool & the Gang – Straight ahead – Extended dance out to a track I’ve not heard before (or don’t recall) and it sounds like a dry run to a later superior hit called ‘Fresh’ which I see Dory has already flagged up.

    1. Agreed regarding this Barry Manilow track, which is probably his greatest in my opinion, despite the 5:27 length of the song (blame Jim Steinman for this). I just dusted off my CD of Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits: The Platinum Collection, and this song is the longest on it by a mile. Just some lyrics here from it to savour:

      "I've been whispering softly trying to build a cry up to a scream.....we let the past slip away and put the future on hold, now the present is nothing but a hollowed-out dream"...

      "Well I could tell you goodbye and maybe see you around with just a touch of sarcastic thanks.....but now the guns are exhausted and the bullets are blank, and everything's blank....."

      Good Lord, I must get down to my local karaoke on Tuesday to do this one.

    2. Could It Be Magic is almost 7 minutes long in its full length version - is that on your compilation CD, Dory?

  7. Christmas Day's arrived! It's courtesy of X Ray Four at

    1. So there will be overtime again, with three Xmassy episodes from the end of 1983 to blog over the summer Bank Holiday weekend coming up. Couldn't be more weird, eh!

  8. I'm still plugging away at restoring the JK episodes by editing the missing footage back into the BBC4HD versions; unfortunately I've now reached my 15GB storage limit on 4Shared so will have to remove some of what's there before I can add any more. So I thought I'd just mention it here so anyone who needs to grab anything can (rather than having it suddenly vanish quicker than a wetransfer link :P)

    The files are available from:

    Currently I've uploaded restored versions for all BBC4-screened JK episodes from 17/6/82 through to 14/4/83 (excluding 5/8/82, which someone else already did a restoration on.) 14/7/83 is ready to upload once I have space; then I'll go back and do the early '82 / late '81 ones.

    1. Great stuff drykid! I see that you've still not got the link to JK from Leo Sayer on 23/3/83. I've got two copies of it with the link so it does exist. Also how did you go on with 21/7/83, trying to get the Police spliced back in after Roman Holliday as Sav's intro and Gary Davies's backchecks are both missing?

    2. If there's any way you can share the missing link for 23/3/83 then please do so, I'm happy to go back to that one and fix it. Was never that happy about how that one was edited, but the UK Gold version with cut to ad break was the only thing I had to work from at the time.

      I just looked at 21/7/83 and there's some weird editing going on there for sure; will have to read the thread for that one to see what was going on with that episode.

    3. Hi drykid! I've uploaded the link to 23/3/83. It's only part of the show as the full show exceeds my 500MB allowance. Try at It doesn't appear to have given me a link number so i'm not sure you'll get it. I'm only a novice at it but here's hoping! There appear to be two versions of the show, both on UK Gold with the advert break in a different place on this version.

    4. Found the link number. It's at

    5. Thanks for that, have the file and will make a start on editing straight away. The other version I already had must be from a later UK Gold repeat as the ad break style is different to the one I remember from the mid-90s. Even on your upload the link into JK is a bit odd, as it cuts to him without a word of explanation from Peel or Jensen. But I guess this is how it really went out in the original transmission.

      Cheers again!

    6. Brie / Drykid - any chance of one of you uploading the 8.8.83 show. I missed it at the time. Thanks.

    7. Sorry I meant 18 August 1983 presented by DLT and Gary Davies

    8. That wa probably the best show of 1983 Bama, and unfortunately a yewtreed one.

    9. Yes it sounds good but I cant see it. Someone offered to re-upload it for me but it never happened.

    10. bama: in case you're still reading this I re-uploaded 18/8/83 for you:

  9. Status Quo - Given how rubbish most of their 80s songs are, even though it's extremely cheesy I don't actually mind this one too much!

    UB40 - Absolutely awful cover version.

    Slade - I think I've said enough about them lately!! Jim Lea doing piano & guitar here I notice.

    Bazza - No thanks, not keen on either him or Steinman songs so this is not for me.

    Pretenders - For some reason, this completely passed me by at the time (surely it got airplay though?) so I only really discovered it later. I really like it, and the KT Tunstall cover is very good too.

    Kenny / Dolly - Glad that fans of this got to see it at last. I'm not one of them though.

    Flying Pickets - I suspect this is the show that my Jim Lea anecdote referred to, though if the snowmen were the producers idea I suppose you can understand their reluctance!

    Kool & The Gang - Not too bad, probably their 2nd best 80s song after 'Ooh La La La'.

  10. A largely forgettable show saved right at the end by a monster boogie classic from Kool and the Gang. A nice,long play out too which was great.

  11. Personally I think that 'Marguerita Time' is Status Quo's low point, having neither the crunchiness of their usual output nor the melodic sublimity of 'Living On An Island' and 'Rock 'n' Roll'. They did pick up a bit after this, in my opinion, before descending into cover version self-parody by the 1990s.

    1. Dexys did an interesting cover of Marguerita Time as a b-side a couple of years later, it's certainly very different to the Quo version:

    2. I remember that but even Quo's original has the Dexys feel about it.

  12. Shakey Shakerson25 May 2017 at 01:42

    Looks like its school prom night as the world's dreariest teacher and Sister Cheggers are appropriately attired to keep the wastrels from 5C adding cheap vodka to the kid-friendly punch. So, no fun there. And not much fun in the music selection either.

    Quo. Okay, THEY are having fun as they chug-chug their way through a faintly countryish tune. Kind of a novelty move from the boys which did nothing for me. But then precious little of their previous output did anything for me either - plus sa change!

    UB40. On the first couple of hearings I thought Ali and co had recovered their mojo with this cover. But, a few more hearings further down the road, and I had to reconsider. Not as bad as Red Red Wine, but still, its no Food For Thought is it?

    Slade. Can't really believe this got into the top 3. Its a scarf-waving, end-of-concert, singalong with nothing new to say. Presumably their newly-acquired position as Gods within the NWOBHM was responsible for this late success. Confirmation, if confirmation was needed that Metal fans have little discernible musical taste.

    Manilow next with, I kid you not, a cover of a Meatloaf track. Despite the Manilowization of the song, this still has Steinman stamped all over it. And , although they seem odd bedfellows, Manilow has previous for covering unusual-for-him songs having did a fairly-decent job covering Ian Hunter's Ships a few years earlier. That was a good cover, as was his version of Mandy, but this was less pleasing. Oh well, two out of three aint bad.

    The Pretenders with the first sighting of a soon-to-be Christmas staple. I always assumed 2000 miles was poetic licence for 2000 years (being approximately the time between Jesus' birth and 1983). The suggestion being that He was about to return to the planet. Maybe I just read too much into stuff.

    Kenny & Dolly up next with a consumate C&W performance. Kenny (with his trimmed-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life beard) is virtually note perfect, whilst the heroically-upholstered Dolly goes off-point occasionally, but gives the better performance. The song is over played now and does little to excite me.

    The Flying Pickets tick of all the usual Christmas performance tropes the BBC props department could think of - snowmen, tinsel, balls, snow. A mildly-diverting performance but one definitely belonging to the 80s.

    So to the scores. Not much in this show to tickle the Shaky tastebuds. The Pretenders were good and Manilow's video was diverting enough but there wasn't really anything else of interest. 4

    Lets be festively kind and give the presenters a 6. Sister Cheggers was much the better host, but the Geography teacher wasn't as bad as normal. Maybe 5C DID get to the punch after all?

    1. Shakey - just love your Meatloaf pun!!!

      ...and Manilow's excellent cover of 'Ships'.

  13. I see that a copy of the 600th edition of Top of the Pops, from october 1975, which was wiped by the BBC, has been found in an archive in Blackpool! Don't hold your breath for the BBC to show it in full though, the host is DLT!

  14. Status Quo. Didn't really know what to make of this at the time. I always assmumed it was a cover of an old '60s song but was surprised to that it was written by Rossi and Parfit.

    While I didn't mind some of the UB40 Labour Of Love covers I never liked Many Rivers To Cross mainly due it's nasty production which someone once unkindly described as a Bontempi organ with the Reggae button permanently on. This is a special Christmas video which is different from the one on the Labour Of love video.

    Slade were clearly hoping that they would get to number one with the anthemic My Oh My. No chance but it was a good try. This is one of those songs that I actually care less for the more times I hear it.

    Bazza Manilow's Read 'Em And Weep is another song I don't recall but it's not to bad. I am not familiar with the original but it has got Meatloaf written all over it. Not to sure about the video. Nicely filmed but I never like seeing anyone done up as a clown as it seems to emphasize the odd shape of people's heads/faces and Baza is no exception.

    Until it was revived a few years ago on Xmas compilations and TOTP2 I had zero memories of this Pretenders song. I don't know why it had so little impact on me at the time because it's very good.

    Kenny Rogers looks old here but was only in his 40s. Dolly never seems to get any older.

    The Flying Snowballs still at number one and despite this camp/kitsch performance it carried on selling.

    Another classy soul-dancer from Kool and The Gang and an excellent choice as a playout song.